May 17: Ventilator Use Decreases 'Significantly' As San Antonio Patients Improve

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Texas Public Radio is updating the latest information on COVID-19 in the San Antonio area, along with how local businesses are adjusting, how you can help those in need and what you can do to stay entertained at home. TPR is also providing live updates on the Rio Grande Valley.

Here’s what we know …

Sunday, May 17

6:50 p.m. – South Texas Blood & Tissue Center urges citizens to donate

Metro Health’s data team has been working “24/7” according to Mayor Ron Nirenberg, and is taking part of this weekend off work. Because of that, there aren’t new case numbers to report.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg reviewed the trends in case counts overtime. May 1 and 2 showed the highest number of case counts per day (both days had 100+ cases).

Though daily case numbers decreased after May 2, Nirenberg noted that the daily numbers have increased in the past few weeks due to universal testing in the jail and in nursing homes. Overall, Nirenberg said the percentage of total tests that are positive has dropped since early May.

There are currently 88 people in local hospitals due to COVID-19: 70 have tested positive, and 18 are under investigation.

There are 31 people in intensive care and 16 on ventilators.

Precinct 2 County Commissioner Justin Rodriguez noted that jail numbers have remained relatively flat. Of 1,611 inmates who have been tested, only 393 have tested positive (319 without symptoms and 74 with symptoms). No inmates are currently hospitalized.

Rodriguez said that the city is working to offer smaller businesses assistance with essential items, including bags with touches thermometers, masks, gloves, etc. Additionally, there will be a meeting on Tuesday to discuss further allocation of CARES Act funding.

Paul Basaldua, a former COVID-19 patient, spoke about the importance of donating plasma. He and Elizabeth Walton, CEO of the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, urged former COVID-19 patients to donate plasma, as well as all citizens to consider donating blood.

Walton said the Blood and Tissue Center has had 120 blood drives canceled. The drives were planned for this summer and would have yielded 4,000 units of blood. To recuperate those losses, the center will host a blood drive at the Alamo Dome May 21–23 from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Appointments are required and can be made on the Blood and Tissue Center’s website.

6:10 p.m. — Watch today’s daily briefing

5:15 p.m. — Migrants, Volunteers Prepare For Possible COVID-19 Outbreak At Mexican Border Camp

Medical experts and volunteers at a migrant camp in Matamoros worry that COVID-19 could spread like wildfire among the more than 1,500 people living there if the virus makes its way into there.

Read more about how the camp is preparing for an outbreak here.

9:30 a.m. — Update on surrounding counties

Comal County confirmed two additional cases last week bringing the total 70. There are 56 people who have recovered from the virus and there have been six deaths reported.

Atascosa County confirmed 30 cases Thursday, with 17 recoveries and only one death related to the virus.

The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed 101 cases in Guadalupe County, where 83 have recovered. There are 36 cases reported in Wilson County, and 45 in Medina County.

There 20 COVID-19 cases in Kendall County. Both Uvalde and Bandera Counties report six cases each.

Saturday, May 16

6:30 p.m. — Ventilator usage decreases

Metro Health‘s data team has been working “24/7” according to Mayor Ron Nirenberg, and is taking part of this weekend off work. Assistant Director Jennifer Herriot said the team has worked for 115 days straight and this is their second day off work. Mother’s Day was the first. Because of that, there aren’t new case numbers to report. 

However, there is an update on testing numbers and ventilator usage. There have been 40,681 tests in the San Antonio area, and the number of patients on ventilators has decreased “significantly” down to 14. With no new deaths, Nirenberg said, the decrease in ventilator usage is a good indicator.

“That means patients in the hospital have improved significantly,” he said.

Director of Neighborhood and Housing Services Veronica Soto said that housing assistance is available for San Antonio residents who need help with rent or mortgage payments. So far there are 7,300 applicants requesting half of the available money. With new applications coming everyday, she expects they will hit 10,000 next week.

6 p.m. —Watch today’s daily briefing

4 p.m. — City reactivates some committees

The San Antonio City Council will resume some committee meetings after suspending them at the start of the coronavirus crisis. Most of the committees will focus on getting the city ready for the post COVID-19 economy.

In March, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg suspended the council committees to focus full attention to the city’s pandemic response.

Council committees are used to refine most city ordinances and city policy before the full city council considers them.

In June, several of the council’s committees will resume via video conference.

Nirenberg informed the council that he is recreating committees to focus on workforce, economic development, small business, technology, neighborhood services and community health.

An intergovernmental relations committee will be made up of members of the San Antonio city council members and Bexar County Commissioners Court.

Other committees, including public safety and transportation, will not meet again until further notice.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines

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